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Thursday, August 31, 2017

In Memoriam: Lesley McAllister

I am deeply saddened by the untimely passing of our beloved friend and colleague Lesley McAllister. Lesley, a brilliant environmental law scholar, had been bravely battling cancer for several years. She was strong and open and loving and compassionate about her disease and she was incredibly active, both in her professional and personal life, till the very end. Last year, at AALS San Francisco, the Center for Progressive Reform, in partnership with her current faculty, UC Davis, and former faculty, University of San Diego, held a Festschrift for Professor Lesley McAllister, celebrating her work and life. It was a beautiful event. At the McAllister Festschrift, I was honored to represent our colleagues at USD in delivering words - which I am pasting here below - about how much we love, admire, and miss her since she left to UC Davis. 

Words for Lesley - McAllister FestSchrift Jan 2017

Lesley and I started our teaching careers together, we were both hired by Dan Rodriguez at USD just before he stepped down from his deanship. So for me so much of the beginning of my career as a baby professor is tied to my friendship with Lesley. (actual babies too are tied to our friendship – Lesley and I each had the pleasure of throwing the other a baby shower for our daughters.). I can’t overstate how significant it was for me to have trusted colleague and friend to think together about everything we needed to learn in all the facets of academia, scholarship, writing, teaching, faculty life, and institutional leadership.

In each one of these facets Lesley always inspires me. She works hard but also finds balance. She is a great scholar and an amazing mother. She is generous and kind with her times and thoughts. She is a source of wisdom and a force of good.

Others will be talking about the scholarly dimensions of your work, Lesley, but I will just say a couple of things. First, I admire how Lesley chooses her projects in a deliberate way – driven by passion for the research, for the field, and most importantly a passion for making a difference. It is no coincidence that Lesley’s book about environmental protection in Brazil is called Making Law Matter – Lesley cares about writing that matters. She loves the environment, she is passionate about the outdoors, from hiking, backpacking, biking, camping, and - we use this expression far too often but in Lesley’s case it simply is true -  Lesley wants to make the world a better place. I think it is quite rare to find such strong synergies between one’s writing and one’s passions outside of the office. Lesley’s work matters.

Lesley is also inspiring in her rigor and devotion to interdisciplinary and comparative work. And again others this evening will talk about particular dimensions of her writing but I will just say that my own work about regulation and governance has very much benefited from Lesley's deeply insightful articles on public/private governance, private enforcement, the role of persuasion, collaboration and alliances in achieving compliance.

Beyond the scholarship, and here I want to say something not only my behalf but on behalf of all of Lesley’s former colleagues at USD, Lesley has played an amazing role as an institutional leader. She basically put together USD’s environmental and energy program and grew it from scratch. She came in as a junior faculty and took on the incredibly time-consuming role of leading EPIC – USD’s Energy Policy Institute Center – including planning the center’s annual symposium. As one of our senior colleagues writes about Lesley, “I was amazed to see how Lesley could get anyone to appear – she was rather like Johnny Carson in his prime – everyone wanted to be on her show.” Lesley was also the driving force behind the San Diego Journal of Climate and Energy Law and the faculty advisor to the environmental law student group – and as another colleague writes, “her students adored her. She has not only informed them and taught them skills for life but has influenced and inspired them.”

Lesley has been incredibly generous with her time and thoughts and energies with both students and her colleague. Obviously, we all miss Lesley very much at USD. Personally, I cannot tell you the number of times I find myself at a frustrating committee meeting or a thought provoking workshop, when I look around the room and think, “if only Lesley was still here in San Diego, we could share thoughts and move things forward”. But our loss was Davis’ gain and I am so happy to be here all of us together to celebrate Lesley’s influential work and her remarkable life.


Posted by Orly Lobel on August 31, 2017 at 08:33 PM | Permalink


Cuando ella vino a Costa Rica como voluntaria del Cuerpo de Paz, yo fui la persona que estuvo a cargo de su trabajo en una organización ambientalista y conocí de cerca su gran ímpetu y deseos de trabajar. Demostraba una fuerza inspiradora para con la legislación ambiental. Ella amaba su trabajo y ayudó a comprender mejor la necesidad de resolver problemas ambientales. Después de su salida de Costa Rica perdí contacto con ella, pero su inspiración me motivó para luchar por el ambiente y la necesidad de una relación amorosa de las personas con la naturaleza y logré construir una iniciativa con ese propósito.(www.paraísoverde.org) y de seguro una parte de esa iniciativa llevará su nombre. En el 2017 ella vino a Costa Rica y preguntó a un amigo mutuo por mí, pero yo estaba fuera del país. Le escribí posteriormente un mensaje el 7 de Setiembre del 2017. Comprendí que quería despedirse. Hasta siempre Lesly, paz y fortaleza a su familia.

Posted by: Rodolfo Quesada Quesada | Oct 31, 2017 10:02:18 AM

This is a touching memoriam.

I respectfully offer this article as well: https://paw.princeton.edu/article/lesleys-story

Posted by: Joe | Sep 4, 2017 11:08:48 AM

Very sad to learn this news. And appreciate Orly's nice words, printed here and happily heard by Lesley and her family last January in San Francisco. I knew Lesley from the beginning of her academic career and enjoyed seeing her work develop and her collegiality and institutional imprint grow to make a meaningful difference on two excellent institutions, USD and UC Davis. I was proud to her friend, and admiring of her many contributions. She will be missed by the many folks who knew her and cherished her.

Posted by: dan rodriguez | Sep 4, 2017 8:12:26 AM

Shocked and saddened to hear this. Lesley was a lovely colleague. Truly in her prime. Far too young.

Posted by: David Law | Sep 4, 2017 2:18:40 AM

So sad to hear this. Way too young.

Posted by: Orin Kerr | Sep 1, 2017 2:38:07 AM

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